A common trend in action games today is to focus on incorporating increasingly realistic graphics as the primary means of promoting sales and enhancing the gaming experience. Live actors and photo-realistic videos are becoming quite the rage, to the point that many potential buyers are dismissing games as "primitive" if these bells and whistles are missing. But in the process, game designers seem to have forgotten that more abstract virtual reality games in unreal settings can be just as enjoyable.
This year, Cylindrix was one of the few action games of its type to be released, produced by a small new Louisiana company named Goldtree Enterprises (the game is now being distributed by Softdisk). This 3-D shooter fits squarely into the tradition of the successful shooter Spectre, released a few years ago by Velocity. Spectre set the standard in its time for exciting combat involving moving geometric shapes on a planar surface. In Cylindrix, one finds oneself within a cylinder-shaped tube in which the goal is to fight to stay alive against numerous enemies by performing 360 degree maneuvers along the surface and in the air. You navigate around building-sized pylon towers, and for once banging into stationary objects is rewarded, as doing so allows your weapons to do more damage. Each vehicle (both your ship and enemy ships) has lasers, missiles and a special weapon at its disposal.
The choices for game customization seem almost endless. You may play in tournament mode (in which you are transported to fight in increasingly challenging arenas), custom mode (in which you select arenas), training mode (in which the combat is relatively easy), or modem/network modes. You may use a keyboard or joystick to control navigation and shooting. Each pilot may select one of ten cylindrical tubes for play, one of several wingmen (each of which can be independently programmed), and one of eight attack ships (with differing speeds, shields and weaponry). Numerous different enemies are confronted in the game, each with widely varying performance characteristics and "personalities." The gameplay is extremely exciting, much more challenging and intense than Spectre (or, indeed, than most shooters on the market today). Goldtree emphasizes the high quality real-time 3-D artificial intelligence involved in numerous aspects of gameplay, and it is truly impressive to witness how well the AI functions and what a difference it makes over the mindless predictable algorithms one sees in other action games. The pulsating CD-ROM soundtrack, creative sound effects and hip vocal sound bites enhance the play considerably.
The wish list is relatively small for this new company's first-time game effort. The game is a standard VGA DOS game (320x200 pixels with 256 colors), and despite the great beauty of all of the cylindrical arenas, one wishes it could be converted into a Super VGA Windows 95 experience (the game runs fine under Windows 95 even without going into full DOS mode if one has a powerful enough machine). It would be nice if mouse support could be added somehow to the keyboard and joystick options. The overall product could use more professional polish, not so much during the gameplay but rather with the introductory material and transition screens. Finally, better save options for mid-cylinder play interruptions could be provided.
486 DX2-66 (must have math co-processor), 8 MB RAM, 10 MB hard drive space, SoundBlaster-compatible sound card, 2X CD-ROM drive
In sum, this game is no reflexive shoot-'em-up, as considerable strategy goes into successful play. Novices may be a bit frightened at first by its intensity and may die quickly. But for those who want an experience of pure adrenaline-pumping without distraction, this is for you. Overall it rates a 78 out of 100.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP